The Imperial Tour of Schönbrunn Palace ends in the glorious Hall of Ceremonies, but those with a Grand Tour ticket can continue to discover more Habsburg opulence, all carrying the heady scent of historical significance.
The Grand Palace Tour
The extended tour goes through another 18 rooms. Here are my pick of the highlights…
- Right at the start (still in the Hall of Ceremonies) is the grand painting of wedding celebrations where you can see the fake Mozart.
- For another encounter with great moments in world history, there’s the Blue Chinese Salon. Just over a hundred years ago, this is where the last Emperor (Karl I) agreed to give up any role in government following Austria-Hungary’s defeat in WWI.
- Perhaps my favourite location is the Vieux-Laque Room. Empress Maria Theresa redecorated it in honor of her late husband.
(Schönbrunn Palace, Vieux-Laque room © Schloß Schönbrunn Kultur- und Betriebsges.m.b.H. – Alexander Eugen Koller)
The artistry is breathtaking, but the chamber also reveals a rarely-seen side of the monarchy. You get the sense that here was not an Empress at all, but simply a woman in love with a man whose death in 1765 affected her deeply. Wealth and power offer no protection from loss and grief.
- But back to history and the Napoleon Room, with no prizes for who likely stayed here. Napoleon based himself at Schönbrunn during his occupation of Vienna in the early 19th century.
The city is full of echoes of Napoleon’s stay. For example, the Burggarten owes its existence to his army’s destructive withdrawal. His carriage sits in the Wagenburg. His second wife lies in the Kapuzinergruft crypt. And their son’s rather expensive cot resides in the Imperial Treasury.
- The walls in the Porcelain Room may look like, well, porcelain, but are actually drawings on wood. Quite apart from the beauty of the illusion, the panelling includes remarkably-decent paintings by Maria Theresa’s children. In fact, royal paintings, drawings and artistry appear throughout the tours.
- The extremely-rare and valuable East Indian rosewood panelling with its embedded Indo-Persian miniatures explains the name of the Millions Room.
- The Rich Room contains a bed which stands at the opposite end of the scale to the simple piece of furniture Franz Joseph died in (see the Imperial Tour). The bed of state was made for Empress Maria Theresa and intended for ceremonial purposes (whatever they might have been!).
And that’s just about it for your tour of Schönbrunn Palace. It may be the highlight of a trip to Schönbrunn, but by no means the only one: try some more suggested activities.